2016 National Service-Learning Awards: Practitioner & Youth Leadership Honorees

The National Service-Learning Awards are an annual celebration of trailblazers in the fields of service-learning, education, community service, and youth leadership. They honor impactful leaders generating young leaders of conscience and character. Over the following weeks leading up to Educate. Ignite. Transform., the 27th Annual National Service-Learning Conference®, stay tuned to nylc.org for profiles of the honorees.

The recipient of the 2016 Service-Learning Practitioner Leader Award is Anne Thidemann French, Service-Learning Coordinator at Drury High School in North Adams, Massachusetts. Instrumental to the installation of quality service-learning practice in North Adams Public Schools, Anne identified gaps in her community — youth disengagement, substance abuse, poverty — and sought to empower students to feel the success of doing over a twenty-four year education career. She integrated service-learning into the district through teacher trainings, meaningful community partnerships, and policy development at the district level. Because of her tireless work, the North Adams Public Schools district now has service-learning curriculum embedded in middle and high school academic requirements. Anne has always worked to create opportunities for youth to flourish.

“I am thrilled and humbled to be honored as the recipient of the 2016 Service-Learning Practitioner Leadership Award. The field of service-learning has been inspirational to me, taking my career in directions that I never imagined. Service-learning is such a powerful educational tool: I have been so fortunate to be able to lead teachers and students to learn through work that is real and that matters.”

The recipient of the 2016 Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Excellence Award is Project F.L.O.A.T. (Funding Life Saving Opportunities and Training), a youth leadership project devised by three students from Hidden Valley High School in Josephine County, Oregon. Katherine Haley, Kali Henderson, and Milo Dolantree created Project F.L.O.A.T. in response to a pressing community need: water safety education. Approximately eight people per year drown in Josephine County rivers, most due to failure to wear a life jacket or a lack of knowledge about rapids and undercurrents. Project F.L.O.A.T. partnered with local nonprofit and governmental organizations to provide loaner life-jacket stations along two rivers and educated their peers in all-school assemblies — along with expert guest speakers — to provide HVHS students with a greater knowledge about water safety. Katherine, Kali, and Milo wrote grants for funding and coordinated with local businesses for supplies to support Project F.L.O.A.T. Said the Project F.L.O.A.T. team:

“It is truly amazing for us to know that we are helping our community in a meaningful way. It feels good to know that something we did could save the life of someone in our town.”

Register for #SLC16 at servicelearningconference.org.